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City Government

Vallejo Continues to Accept Applications for Boards, Committees and Commissions

The City of Vallejo is requesting applications to serve on a number of the City’s boards and commissions. Vallejo residents who are interested in serving on an advisory body are invited to submit an application and supplemental questionnaire for consideration.

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Courtesy City of Vallejo.
Courtesy City of Vallejo.

By City of Vallejo

The City of Vallejo is requesting applications to serve on a number of the City’s boards and commissions. Vallejo residents who are interested in serving on an advisory body are invited to submit an application and supplemental questionnaire for consideration.

There are currently openings on the following boards, commissions, and committees:

For City Boards and Commissions, except for the Civil Service, McCune Collection, and Sister City Commissions, the Surveillance Advisory Board, and the Participatory Budgeting Steering Committee, all appointed members must complete and file a Statement of Economic Interests, Form 700, within 30 days of appointment.

All City Board and Commission members must complete AB 1234 Ethics training and file a Certificate of Completion within 30 days of appointment.

In most instances, to be eligible for appointment, applicants must be residents of the City of Vallejo. Information regarding the duties of each board and commission and specific criteria for appointment may be found within each application. With some exceptions, appointments are typically for a term of four years.

The application period will remain open until a sufficient number have been received in the City Clerk’s Office

Interviews with the City Council are tentatively scheduled for the evenings of June 3 and 10. Applicants must attend the interview to be considered for appointment on a board or commission.

Application forms and supplemental questionnaires are accessible in several ways:

By U.S. Mail: City of Vallejo, C/O City Clerk, PO Box 3068, Vallejo, CA 94590

Bay Area

Opinion: A Strange Tale of Two Political Fights: Sheng Thao and Donald Trump

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao must be wondering how can a convicted felon with 34 guilty verdicts be riding high, while she, an uncharged elected official, fights for her political life? That’s how strange politics is in America today.

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Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao and Presidential Candidate Donald Trump.
Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao and Presidential Candidate Donald Trump.

By Emil Guillermo

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao must be wondering how can a convicted felon with 34 guilty verdicts be riding high, while she, an uncharged elected official, fights for her political life?

That’s how strange politics is in America today.

On the national stage, President Joe Biden made an historic ask of Americans this week. It’s summer, and everyone is a “low information” voter now. But for the sake of the country, and the future of democracy, it’s time to pay attention. Get nerdy now.

Biden is essentially tied with Trump, a newly convicted felon, which tells you how cockeyed political values are in America.

Instead of policy, Trump is all bluster talking about a pre-debate drug test because he’s sure Biden is going to be “jacked up” on some kind of performance enhancing drug.

That kind of thing gets attention. Not whether you’re going to things to improve people’s lives.

But rest assured, if Donald Trump is elected for a second time, the blueprint is already out. The Heritage Foundation’s plan calls for a “Department of Life,” and a theocratic-based world view where abortion is illegal, and minorities of all stripes are disempowered.

A vote for Trump represents a radical reformatting of democracy.

POLITICS IN OAKLAND

In the meantime, local Oakland politics is slightly different, but no less confounding.

Sheng Thao, 18 months into her tenure as the first Hmong American to be mayor of a major U.S. city, is recovering from the worst week in her life.

First, a group of Oakland citizens qualified enough signatures to hold a recall election of Thao. Then, on Wednesday, 15 people were shot at an unauthorized Juneteenth celebration in the city’s Lake Merritt area. The topper came Thursday, when the FBI executed a pre-dawn raid of a number of houses including Thao’s, all connected to a case reportedly involving improper campaign donations from Andy Duong, a Vietnamese American businessman whose company, CalWaste, won the contract to run the city’s recycling program. No arrests were made, just boxes and computers hauled from the various homes. Not a good look.

 

THAO: “I AM INNOCENT”

For five days, Thao was silent, but on Monday, she came out firing her best shot.

“I have done nothing wrong,” Thao said at a news conference. “I can tell you with confidence that this investigation is not about me. I have not been charged with a crime and I am confident that I will not be charged because I am innocent.”

Thao said she was seeking answers from the U.S. attorney as to why she wasn’t “offered the opportunity to cooperate voluntarily.”

Good question. Unless they thought she was hiding something.

Thao addressed the shootings last week first with care, then said she won’t be distracted from the real issues of Oakland. Like safety or the selling of the Oakland Coliseum to a Black-owned group.

But she went back to questioning the timing of last week.

“I want to know more about the handful of billionaires from San Francisco and Piedmont who are hell bent on running me out of office,” she said, questioning how the recall announcement and the raid seemed orchestrated with the media “to fan the flames and bend the facts to shape a narrative.”

Trump, the convicted felon, overcomes reality and is propelled by “friends” who see him as a winner. Thao was voted in through RCV, rank-choice-voting. She was the most people’s No. 2, not No. 1.

Maybe that’s why few allies are standing up behind her now. The Oakland NAACP, and even one Asian group is calling for her to resign.

For Thao, this will be the test if her story can overcome it all, again.

About the Author

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. See him at www.amok.com

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City Government

Opinion: We Can Protect Public Employee Pensions and the Environment

Before being elected to the State Assembly, I spent nearly three decades of my career as a public employee, serving the Los Angeles County Department of Social Services and the Los Angeles County Office of Education. For almost 30 years, I faithfully contributed a portion of my hard-earned salary to the California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS) knowing that someday my investments would be there for me. Today, I am a CalPERS retiree and rely upon my retirement benefits – just like millions of CalPERS and California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) retirees. CalPERS and CalSTRS know that their fiduciary responsibility is to their members, beneficiaries and survivors.

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Assemblymember Tina McKinnor (D-Los Angeles)
Assemblymember Tina McKinnor (D-Los Angeles)

By Assemblymember Tina McKinnor, Special to California Black Media Partners  

Before being elected to the State Assembly, I spent nearly three decades of my career as a public employee, serving the Los Angeles County Department of Social Services and the Los Angeles County Office of Education. For almost 30 years, I faithfully contributed a portion of my hard-earned salary to the California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS) knowing that someday my investments would be there for me. Today, I am a CalPERS retiree and rely upon my retirement benefits – just like millions of CalPERS and California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) retirees. CalPERS and CalSTRS know that their fiduciary responsibility is to their members, beneficiaries and survivors.

I trust CalSTRS and CalPERS to make sound investment decisions that prioritize stable, dignified retirement benefits for California teachers and public employees. I also believe that the climate crisis is a real, existential threat to our state, nation and world. California can and must act to reverse this crisis and preserve our fragile environment for generations to come. That is why California has led our nation by phasing out the sale of new internal combustion vehicles by 2035 and becoming carbon net-zero by 2045.

As Chair of the Assembly Committee on Public Employment and Retirement, I am committed to protecting the retirement funds of teachers and other public employees. My record is clear. I also represent a coastal district, home to some of California’s most famous beaches along with majority Black and Brown communities that are working to achieve the environmental justice that they and all communities deserve. My record is clear here too: I have, and will continue, to be a champion for protecting the environment.

Last year, SB 252, by Sen. Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), came before my committee, which would require CalPERS and CalSTRS to divest from its fossil fuel investments by 2031. At the time, I expressed concern that teachers and other public employees were largely absent from the conversation – after all, it is their money – and asked that the Author and the bill’s supporters work with public sector labor unions to take a position on this legislation.

A year later, although a few public sector labor unions expressed their support for SB 252, many others did not. In fact, a number of police, fire, and other public employee unions oppose the bill. As a compromise, I offered the Author amendments that would align CalPERS and CalSTRS divestment from fossil fuels with California’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2045. It was a real path to divestment that still allowed CalPERS and CalSTRS to take early divestment action if they decided to do so. The Author declined to accept the amendments, which was followed by her decision to cancel the bill being heard in my committee. Unfortunately, this was a missed opportunity to protect public employee pensions and show global leadership by divesting from fossil fuel companies once and for all.

To be clear, if CalPERS and CalSTRS wanted to divest from fossil fuel companies they could – today. Together, CalPERS and CalSTRS have committed over $100 billion in investments to sustainable energy and using the power of their investment portfolios to hold fossil fuel companies accountable. More can and must be done to not just green our economy, but green our public pension systems.

I encourage the author and the supporters of SB 252 to reintroduce the measure next legislative session with my proposed amendments and work closely with our public sector labor partners to find greater consensus with the environmental community on this issue. We do not have to choose between protecting public employee pensions and protecting the environment – we can do both. But we cannot risk the solvency of current and future public employee retirement benefits without consensus from our public workers.

It is their money after all.

About the Author 

Assemblymember Tina McKinnor serves as Chair of the Assembly Public Employment and Retirement Committee and represents the cities and communities of El Segundo, Gardena, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Lawndale, Lenox, Los Angeles, Marina del Rey, Venice, West Athens, Westchester and Westmont in Los Angeles County.

Connect with Assemblymember McKinnor on social media: @AsmTinaMcKinnor

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Bay Area

Mayor Sheng Thao Says, “I Am Innocent” While Addressing Public First Time After FBI Raid

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao finally addressed the public Monday morning after four days of silence following an FBI raid on her home last week and the certification of signatures required to trigger a recall election. Thao and her family woke up to FBI officers entering her home last Thursday morning and leaving with several boxes of unknown content. The FBI has not commented on what the investigation is about, but it has been reported that they are working in collaboration with the IRS and USPS.

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Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao during a press conference following the FBI raid on her home. Photo courtesy ABC7 San Francisco.
Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao during a press conference following the FBI raid on her home. Photo courtesy ABC7 San Francisco.

By Magaly Muñoz

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao finally addressed the public Monday morning after four days of silence following an FBI raid on her home last week and the certification of signatures required to trigger a recall election.

Thao and her family woke up to FBI officers entering her home last Thursday morning and leaving with several boxes of unknown content. The FBI has not commented on what the investigation is about, but it has been reported that they are working in collaboration with the IRS and USPS.

“I want to be crystal clear. I have done nothing wrong,” Thao stated emphatically at the press conference.

Three other properties were also searched that morning, including the residences of California Waste Solutions owners Andy and David Duong. The Duongs are at the center of an investigation by the Oakland Public Ethics Commission for political money-laundering, as reported by the Oaklandside.

Thao said that she was unaware of the investigation or raid prior to Thursday and would have fully cooperated had the FBI contacted her beforehand. She says she still has not received any information on what the investigation is about or whether she is the focus of it.

Bay Area defense attorney Anthony Brass, who took on Thao as a client shortly after the incident, and talked to press on Friday afternoon, withdrew his representation Monday.

He asked to withdraw from her legal team, and she accepted, Brass told the Post, but did not elaborate as to why.

Thao also addressed the shooting at Lake Merritt on June 19 during a Juneteenth celebration where 15 people were injured by gunfire. The incident was a result of a fight during a car sideshow that occurred at the Lakefest festival around 8 p.m.

This event resulted in yet another conversation about the lack of public safety and police presence in the city, an issue many have blamed Thao for.

“I want every Oaklander to know that we will work hard to ensure that those responsible are held accountable,” Thao said.

The FBI raid happened only two days after the Alameda County Registrar of Voters certified the signatures needed to trigger a recall election on the November ballot. Recall proponents submitted over 40,000 signatures seven weeks before their July deadline.

Thao accused billionaires from San Francisco and Piedmont for being behind the attempts to oust her and “buying the recall election.” She blamed them for empowering people like Seneca Scott, a leader behind the recall, to overturn the election.

“They were not only aiming to undermine the outcome of a fair and free election, but they empowered a dangerous man with a history of assault weapons violations to further attack me in life,” Thao said.

The “dangerous man” in question is Scott, a failed 2022 mayoral candidate who is spearheading the recall alongside former Police Commissioner Brenda Harbin-Forte. The recall group has called on Thao to resign since the unraveling of events on Thursday.

The mayor also suggested that this situation would not be happening if she were a rich politician. She stated that she’s aware that former elected officials have committed campaign finance violations with “mountains” of evidence to prove the wrongdoing, but “their front doors remain intact.”

Because the press was told Thao would not take questions, following her lawyer’s advice, no one asked for further details about this claim.

Thao promised to continue her work to keep Oakland safe and fight against the “right-wing forces” behind her recall. She reiterated her commitment to major city projects like the sale of the Coliseum property to the African American Sports Entertainment Group, emphasizing that this investment would proceed without derailment.

“I will not be bullied, and I will not be disparaged, and I will not be frightened out of this office,” Thao said.

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